Seven elements of highly passionate teams

Posted by

This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)

You may have seen this: A company decided to become agile and introduced an agile framework e.g. Scrum. The management hopes for higher product quality, a better TTM (Time To Market), an improved risk management, finally a project that is on time and budget and more. Although they implemented Scrum by the book, after about half a year, they realize, that none of the promises came true. The Scrum Master is searching desperately for another, a better tool he can try next, but none of them has the desired effect. Step by step the team is falling back into their old habits and in the end they say: Scrum does not work. And they are right! Only by putting a new shiny saddle on your dead horse, you won’t get it running again. To understand what happened one has to know, how Scrum was created.

Success is never because of the process but always about the people – Marc Löffler

In the end, Scrum is nothing more than a collection of best practices, which were put together and labeled “Scrum”. When a project went really well, people had a look and started to copy how the team worked. As these tools helped to create stellar results, they are copied and pasted into a new context with the expectation, that they will produce the same results again. What they ignore is, that success is never because of the process, but always about the people. David Garret is an awesome violinist. Some of you may now that he play a Stradivarius. But nobody would say: Look, David is such an extraordinary violinist, let’s buy a Stradivarius, too. Interestingly, the first line of the Agile Manifesto reads:

Individual and interactions over processes and tools – Agile Manifesto

Unfortunately, this line is ignored more often than respected. But it doesn’t make sense to implement any new process before you worked with the team itself. In most cases, where a team was able to deliver stellar results, you will find a passionate team. A team that is burning for the stuff they are working on. A passionate team will perform, even if the processes they have to adhere to are sub-optimal. Whereas, a bad team won’t be able to deliver anything, even if they have the best processes and tools in place. A passionate team is the cornerstone of success. But what do I need to get such a team? Here comes the PASSION model into play. It defines seven elements that are necessary to create a passionate team. These are the elements:

Passion

There is nothing better, than a team that burns for their topic and/or technology. The more passion, the better. If you are not able to identify yourself with what you are working on, you’ll never use your full potential.

Adaptable

In today’s time, change is continuously happening. In a passionate team, change is in the core of their DNA. They adapt quickly to new situations and even take advantages of it.

Strong Vision

As long as I don’t know, why I’m working on an individual topic, there won’t be any purpose in my daily work. That’s why it is important to have a clear, desirable vision to light up the passion in your team.

Strength Oriented

An internal study of Cisco at the beginning of this year aimed to find out what made their most successful teams so great. The number one reason was that the individual team members were able to use their personal strengths. And this makes perfect sense. Why trying to get rid of all the shortcomings of your people, if you can use their strength now?

Independent

The more a team is independent of internal processes and hierarchy, the better. The more a team can define their work process on their own, the bigger the passion in a team. And last but not least, it reduces the waste produced by brainless processes which make the team more productive and in the end happier.

Oneness

A great team is like a dough. You don’t see the different ingredients anymore. No finger pointing or blaming. All successes and failures are on the team and not on individual team members. No lone wolfs anymore.

Nimble

Today, a company dies if it is slow. A passionate team understands that continuous learning is not a chore, but part of normal life. They never stop learning.

These are the seven elements of the PASSION model. I’ve already defined four maturity levels for each of the elements that I will publish in my next blog post. When I start to coach a new team, I always use the PASSION model to assess how passionate the team already is. After that, I use the model to guide my next actions to form a highly passionate team. A team that can do anything. Only if you focus on people first and build a great team, you will have success. And if you have such a team, frameworks like Scrum can help to make it even better.

What do you think? Do you miss something in the PASSION model? Feel free to leave a comment.